‘Twas a night before Christmas in 2014. I was sipping on a gin-tonic, playing royal vegas casino games and browsing through the news at the same time (yes, I’m that good), when I stumbled upon something that made me happy at first. SyFy has announced that it will quit joking around and get back in the serious science fiction business.
To this end, it has decided to adapt Arthur C. Clarke’s classic, Childhood’s End, to the small screen. I was happy for someone finally adapting one of my favorite novels of all time to television. But then I thought of the many ways SyFy could screw up, and I started to shiver.
The days have passed, and the first teaser was revealed. And my fears seemed to be confirmed. I should learn to know better, and not have high expectations from any screen adaptations of classic science fiction novels. Those are written for an audience much different from today’s popcorn eating Facebook junkies, always looking for bigger explosions, more gunshots and an ever growing body count on screen. Classic sci-fi was meant to make you think, not to entertain.
Apparently Arthur C. Clarke’s classic science fiction novel Childhood’s End will not be adapted to television. Instead, the producers have taken what they thought would entertain, and left out some of the most important parts from it. And the actors cast for the main roles are not the perfect choice for an adaptation either – even if I consider Charles Dance to be the perfect choice for Karellen’s voice.
First of all, Rikki Stormgren’s character is completely altered. In the novel he was the UN Secretary General, and the person the Overlords have chosen to keep in touch with the people of Earth. He was a Finnish man of a respectable age for his position. In the mini-series we’ll have the chance to meet Ricky Stormgren, who is neither of a respectable age, nor Finnish (maybe in his ancestry). Played by Mike Vogel (you might know him as Barbie from Under the Dome), he would be a perfect fit in an action flick, not in a serious and thoughtful science fiction adaptation.
But what shocked me the most is the fact that Jan Rodricks was left out of the story completely. He is one of the most important characters in the book – the young scientist who identifies the Overlords’ planet of residence (not their home planet, though) and finds a way to go there. He is the first human to ever leave the Solar System, and the last human to survive, which is quite an important part of the story. But SyFy has left him out completely.
As you can see, I don’t have high expectations from Childhood’s End, the TV mini-series. It will most likely be a major disappointment for all those who have loved the book. But hopefully it will be a bit of futuristic entertainment for the rest. But they could’ve at least given it a different title, don’t you think?